Romanian is to be taught at Oxford University in England for the first time. Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, started lectures on the Romanian language on Monday (October 29 ) at the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics. Romania’s ambassador to the UK Dr Ion Jinga gave a speech at the first lecture to mark the occasion.
The program is receiving funding from the Romanian government and was set up as a joint venture between Oxford University and the Romanian Language Institute in Bucharest.
The lectures will be run by Oana Uţă-Bărbulescu from the University of Bucharest. She holds a doctorate in literature and specializes in linguistics and her selection for the post was via a competitive process. There have already been 20 applicants for Romanian language studies and examinations will be offered as part of the course. There are currently 82 Romanian students at Oxford, of which half are undergraduates.
‘The appeal of the Romanian language lies in the fact that it is a wonderful mix of the strange and the familiar,’ says Professor Maiden. ‘It is a Romance language, descended from Latin, which displays obvious similarities with other sister languages such as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or French,” he goes on. ’But it represents a branch of the Latin language which became cut off at a very early date from the rest of the Roman empire and remained isolated for centuries. In fact it disappears from the historical record virtually without trace until the early sixteenth century.’
(Left to right – Professor Martin Maiden; the new Romanian lector; Dr Oana Uţă, the first holder of the lectorship; Dr Ion Jinga (Roman ambassador to the UK in London; photo from Oxford University)